Bensouda cites difficulties with Ruto witnesses

Wednesday May 14 2014

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The International Criminal Court case against Deputy President William Ruto is moving forward despite “tremendous difficulties” related to witnesses, Bensouda said on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO.

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The International Criminal Court case against Deputy President William Ruto is moving forward despite “tremendous difficulties” related to witnesses, Bensouda said on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO. 

By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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The International Criminal Court case against Deputy President William Ruto is moving forward despite “tremendous difficulties” related to witnesses, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Tuesday.

Ms Bensouda added that she plans to meet in the coming days with Attorney General Githu Muigai to discuss the court’s request for access to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s financial records.

Asked about the status of the Ruto case at a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Ms Bensouda said, “We are having tremendous difficulties, as usual, with our witnesses not wanting to come forward or changing their minds at the last minute.”

The chief prosecutor has in the past complained about “unprecedented intimidation” of witnesses in the Kenya cases.

The ICC last year accused Kenyan journalist Walter Barasa of attempting to bribe prosecution witnesses in the Ruto case.

But critics of the proceedings have charged that prosecutors have been coaching potential witnesses.

In the Kenyatta case, a key witness was withdrawn last December after saying he had provided false evidence.

In her remarks on Tuesday, Ms Bensouda said the ICC is receiving undiminished co-operation “at all levels” from individual African states despite the attacks that some countries have launched against the court at the UN and in African Union forums.

“Active propaganda” against the ICC is one cause of the hostility some African states have expressed in regard to the court’s prosecutions, Ms Bensouda added.

Criticisms of the ICC for initiating cases exclusively against Africans are “unfair,” the chief prosecutor said.

“Most of those cases came to the ICC from governments themselves,” Ms Bensouda noted. “This accusation that the ICC is going after African leaders is wrong. It is Africa that is coming to the ICC.”

Only in regard to Kenya has the prosecutor used the court’s power to bring charges of crimes against humanity, she said.

The ICC acted in that instance because “we knew that nothing was being done at national level to address the crimes, the post-election violence, that took place in Kenya,” Ms Bensouda declared.